Here is an excerpt from my next book, REAL VAMPIRES DON’T DIET, due out in January, 2009. Glory St.Clair, the vampire who was bloating the night she was turned back in 1604, is mentoring newly turned vamp, rock star Israel Caine (aka Ray). Since her maker and long-time lover, Jeremy Blade, stood her up on New Year’s Eve, she’s out on Lake Travis in Austin with Ray, pretending to enjoy a moonlight boat ride so that Ray will quit drinking his favorite alcoholic beverage. She’s not in a great mood, since water’s not her element, Jerry left the country without so much as a good-bye kiss and Ray’s self-destructive drinking worries her. Then they... Well, you’ll see. Happy reading! Gerry Bartlett
“Nice boat, Ray,” I shouted as we roared across the lake. Leave it to rock star Israel Caine to have one of those lethal looking speed boats. It was a sexy red with white leather seats and noisy as hell. Bet his neighbors loved his late night rides. Me, not so much.
“Not cold, are you?” Ray grinned and turned the wheel so we were heading away from the lights of several houses clustered along the shore.
“What do you take me for? A wimp? Or do you just want me to come closer?” Vampires don’t get cold. A nice perk along with immortality, something to do with our metabolism. I watched the wind press Ray’s silk shirt against his lean body, a good distraction from the way the boat was hitting the water. I gripped the chrome rail before I was tossed overboard. “My hair’s going to be wild.”
“Watch it, Wonder Woman, you’re bending the hand rail.” Ray throttled back the engine until we were practically coasting in the darkness.
“Closer is good. And I like my women wild.” He reached over and brushed some curls from my face. “But I think you know that.”
“Yeah. I read the fan-zines and the blogs.” I tried for a careless shrug. Tough when his fingers lingered near my left ear. “Since we’ve become an item, I can’t seem to help myself.” Long story. Pretending to be Ray’s flavor of the month had explained my involvement in his life while I tried to teach him what he needed to know as a new vampire.
Since I could stand to lose a few pounds, especially in the hip area, I’m a novelty in rock star world. The tabloids had started a “Glory watch” and chubby women everywhere had clasped me to their well-endowed bosoms. Several blogs were dedicated to me too. Yeah, to not so little old me. Cool, huh?
“They’ll move on as soon as another drunk star plows a Bentley into a tree. Don’t get too hung up on the hype.” Ray’s hand slid off my cheek and he peered into the darkness. “Did you hear something?”
Besides the pounding of my heart and my inner slut screaming at me to jump Ray’s way too sexy bones? I shook my head. Damn. He’d decided to hold on to the chrome steering wheel instead of me.
“Listen, Glory. I think someone’s calling for help.” He pointed in front of us. “What the hell’s that?”
I jerked my brain into drive and looked around. A strange light shimmered and floated a few feet above the water just yards away. I’m not easily spooked and unless the mother ship appeared in front of us, I was more interested in Ray right now than fog and reflections.
“Spirits maybe. I’ve heard there are sacred Indian burial grounds on the shore of Lake Travis.” I’m down with spirits. Two ghosts call my shop home. “Hippie Hollow’s along here too. Customers say it was a popular area for skinny dipping back in the sixties.” Was I hinting? Hmm. When Ray didn’t ask for directions, I shut up and listened. I’ll be damned. I did hear a faint plaintive cry for help.
“Cut the engine, Ray. You’re right. I do hear someone.”
Ray turned off the engine and we both listened intently. Except for the slap of the water against the hull, it was eerily silent.
“He…lp. Pleeeease help meee.” The voice was high pitched and singsong.
I slapped my hands over my bleeding ears, then sucked it up and looked around the lake, trying to pinpoint the direction the voice had originated from. It seemed to have no relation to the floating light that had drifted away like a phosphorescent cloud. I glanced at Ray.
“Can you tell where it’s coming from?” I whispered, in case the person called out again. How creepy to be stranded in this vast lake. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m strictly a land lover. Water just isn’t my element. I can swim enough to stay afloat, barely. But Lake Travis is huge, miles across and filled with all sorts of wiggly, slimy, creepy, well, things that a vampire should just shrug off, but I never could. What can I say? Inside I’m still a girly girl who jumps on chairs when a cockroach scurries across the kitchen floor. Go figure.
“Not a clue. See anything?” Ray leaned forward when the voice sang out again, louder this time.
“Heeelp. What are you waiting for? An engraved invitation?” This last was a screech.
Ray and I winced and both pointed at the same time. The voice was definitely coming from our right. But if this person was in the water and in real trouble, she was in need of an attitude adjustment. The screech had been female and in bitch mode. I should know. I’ve come up against more than a few bitches in my four hundred plus years and could give this one a run for her money if it came to a bitch-off. Yeah, I’m a girly girl with attitude when it’s called for.
“Hold on, honey. We’re on our way.” Ray cranked the engine and turned the wheel toward the voice. We chugged slowly through the water. He had a searchlight on the bow and nodded to me to aim it ahead of us.
I figured we’d see someone in a lifejacket, or maybe in a boat with engine trouble. I was hoping for the boat. The water was really cold, though for New Year’s Eve, Austin was almost balmy at forty degrees. Got to love Texas winters. A mortal wouldn’t though, not tonight. They’d be in serious danger of hypothermia.
I scanned the water ahead of us with the searchlight. What Ray and I saw floating in front of us made us both gasp. When the engine went dead, we couldn’t even speak. Because we were paralyzed. Yep. Frozen stiff. And not from the cold. Talk about a freak-out. I couldn’t move so much as my little finger. And, believe me, I concentrated until I thought my brain would burst.
“God, what a night. A two-fer.” The creature climbed into the boat, making it rock and sloshing us both with cold water. Not that we could complain. We were statues. Oh God. Oh God. Oh God.
“Sorry I had to trick you like that, sweeties, but that’s what I do. I’m a Siren. You know, the kind that makes ships wreck, makes sailors steer into the rocks, like that.” The beast actually giggled.
I’m not being mean calling it a creature and a beast, though I sure as hell had a right to be mean. I couldn’t move. You know how horrible that is? Never again will I laugh at those scenes on TV or in movies where the guy has both arms and legs in casts and can’t scratch his nose. I can so relate.
But back to the thing. It would definitely come in a distant second to the Loch Ness Monster in a beauty contest. Imagine scales, green, slimy with tufts of seaweed and barnacles clinging to it like it hadn’t bothered with a shower in a few millennia. Its eyes were red and uneven, but had long beautiful lashes. A good thing, since its teeth were too gross to stare at for more than a second. That explained the miasma which gusted from its pursed leathery lips.
“Now, darling, you can just quit judging me. Under this disguise I’m as cute as a button. Wear size four jeans.” She flicked my size twelve-on-a-good-day butt with a slimy finger. “But I’m cursed. Because I screwed up. So I’m stuck here in Lake freakin’ Travis in Austin freakin’ Texas until I can bring the goddess who cursed me three vampires.” She grinned and blasted me with some of that breath.
I would have gagged if I could have moved. I had just discovered hell on earth. Yep. If I could, I’d fall on a stake right now rather than spend one more minute so helpless.
“I’ve been stuck on the rocks over there for a month. Waiting. I’ve sensed humans, shifters, even a damned witch and her coven out for a joy ride in a stolen cabin cruiser. But not one vampire.” She sloshed to Ray’s side.
“So you see why I’m so thrilled to get two in one boat.” The moon came out from behind a cloud and she got a good look at Ray. “Oh. My. Goddess.” The man always has that effect on women.
I felt a surge of hope. Ray’s not shy. Maybe he could bargain his body for our freedom. Of course his standards would have to take a nose dive. I struggled to find a shred of optimism. Ray would have to be struck deaf, dumb, blind and wear a clothespin on his nose to hook up with the big ugly here. We were doomed.
“Honey, no way am I turning you over to any other woman until I have a sample first.” She waved a scaly hand and Ray suddenly fell to the deck.
“Speak to me, baby.”
Ray rubbed his face, blinked, looked at me standing there in concrete mode and managed to show me horror, sympathy and resignation before he faced the creature without flinching. If we got out of this, I was calling his agent. He definitely had a future in Hollywood.